Great, you just started your journey of building a product or service. The next question is: how to get started with a digital product? That’s what we’ll discuss today. Breaking it down, there are four steps to building your product from the first inception to bringing it to market and beyond. The typical product cycle has four main phases: Research, Design, Production and Evaluation. We’ll discuss each step in detail below, for now remember these steps as baseline for your product roadmap.
There are different methodologies to product development like Agile, Kanban and Waterfall. Each with their own particulars and practises. Yet, when it comes to a general roadmap, all work similarly. We’ll discuss each step in detail.
In this stage you take your product idea and run it through product validation, discovery, benchmarking and set your product vision. Product validation makes sure you create a product that people want and don't waste your time, money and effort creating an idea that doesn't sell. You can validate your product ideas in several ways, this means going out in the real world and get feedback. A simple way to do so is to ask friends and family their thoughts, run a survey, post on social media or online forums. To take it a step further, look at market trends like Google Trends or even build a landing page that allows people to sign-up for more information. The most important part here is to get feedback from an extensive and impartial audience on whether they would purchase your product.
Validation research will undoubtedly include competitive analysis and benchmarking your product idea. There are likely to be competitors in the same space as your niche if you have an idea that has the potential for market share. Benchmarking simply boils down to learning about similar product offerings (i.e. Benchmarking is simply learning as much about the product offerings of your competition as possible. Knowing everything about your competition will help you understand what makes them tick, what people like and what you can improve upon. After you've done some brainstorming, and have a few good ideas about the primary concept (and other variations), it's now that you can really get into trying to find the "state-of-the art." This simply means what everyone else is doing.
Having done the initial research, it’s time to start your product discovery process. Instead of looking outwards to the market, turn your vision inwards and ask yourself what the product will look like. Brainstorm on what features the product will have, decide on whether they are essential. Once that is set, it is time to move to the next phase.
Designing your product is all about making it tangible, breakdown the product further and identify the details. Product design is not just about the look and feel of the product (UX/UI), and includes timeline estimations, identification of technical requirements, tasks specifications and decisions on what workflow and project tools to use.
Using a Product Workshop during the design phase is essential in bringing the business requirements together with the creativity of the development team. During the Workshop a product canvas is created, together with personas, user journeys, priorities, and finally the MVP creations.
The MVP is built from user stories, these with their associated designs will be scheduled into sprints. Both the development and design teams must communicate openly about the details of the implementation, including screen transitions, layout issues, and interaction details. The product manager or the development team can open tickets against the design in order to resolve any issues that may arise during implementation.
Based on the choses approach, the design phase will be completed with the creation of key documents. Including the design, technical specifications and coding standards.
The key to any successful implementation is execution, this is where design is made code and code turned into a real-world application. The longest stage of the software product development cycle is the development and coding phase. It is about translating product requirements into a usable product. The code must be consistent with product specifications and meet the expectations of stakeholders. If all the previous steps were well executed and programmers have clear coding standards that they can follow, then the coding phase should be smooth. This is also the phase where at times it may seem that nothing is happening from the outside, yet where all the magic happens.
Having a PM here that can break down the process and communicate each step to the stakeholders is vital here and often overlooked. During execution the Product manager makes sure that the roadmap is matched to budget, milestones are reached and ensures the general structure of the project.
After the software is coded, it is time to test the software (QA) to ensure that there are no errors or bugs that could make it difficult to use. The process will vary depending on the company. Usually, a variety of manual quality assurance testing together with automated frameworks and test tools take the product through both intended and unintended scenarios.
The QA phase is all about making a good first impression when the product launches. Like making a good impression in person, at no time should it be underestimated. The success of evaluation is having strong feedback loops. In practise things means that a report, for a bug or improvement, is taking up quickly and handled with care, then evaluated again as needed. Repeat this as many times as needed. Time and budget savings can be had by automating most basic tasks to AI, then have a human check-up on the more advanced tasks.
There are a number of methodologies that have been tested and proven over time. Each is successful in their own way. The most popular development methodologies are:
The key to using the best approach depends on the project and is different depending on individual circumstances. One of the major mistakes to avoid is to pick a methodology depending on how popular it is, rather than how good it fits your project.
The start of a successful project starts with identifying and validation of the product vision, followed by setting the right approach and methodology for development. Here atEnbi we are experienced in multiple methodologies that will help you find the best fit for your project early on. Get in touch with just a couple clicks!